Ralph A. Harris was a farmer and banker in Ottawa. In 1907 he purchased the Ottawa Herald and combined it with the Ottawa Republic and was the publisher. His sons, Jack and Sidney, grew up at the Ottawa Herald. After college at the University of Chicago, Jack went to work at the Ottawa Herald in 1923. In 1927 Ralph Harris bought the Chanute Tribune. Jack became its 26 year-old publisher and editor. He had strong opinions which he believed were liberal but in a Republican framework. Being called a Bolshevik, early 20th century for communist, did not faze him, nor did any other perjoratives thrown his way.
In 1933 Jack went to Hutchinson to run part of the expanding Harris holdings. He supported Roosevelt, something that was often unpopular in Kansas. He wrote editorials dissecting the problems of the day while supervising the adding of the Garden City Telegram, the Salina Journal and the Olathe News to the group. They also added newspapers in Iowa and California and radio stations in three states. He was, as newspaper people often are, deeply involved in numerous community and professional activities. Jack died in 1969. The leadership of the group changed but it continued to expand. In 1970 it owned eight newspapers and six radio stations. The third and fourth generations of the family continued in the business.
Entry: Harris Family
Author: G. Joseph Pierron
Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.
Date Created: March 2012
Date Modified: March 2012
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.